Remembering East Devon teacher, rower, musician and actor Rodney Dingle

PUBLISHED: 11:03 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 09 October 2017

Rodney Dingle (front row, third from left) with the Cambridge crew, carrying their boat out before the 1952 Boat Race.

Rodney Dingle (front row, third from left) with the Cambridge crew, carrying their boat out before the 1952 Boat Race.


Lympstone church recently resounded to many voices raised in song at the thanksgiving service for Rodney Dingle, who died in August, aged 87. Here the Journal looks back at the life of the award winning oarsman, Exmouth Community College teacher, musician, conductor and keen amateur actor...

Rodney's Seal 22 on the Exe, circa 1983. Rodney's Seal 22 on the Exe, circa 1983.

Rodney Dingle lived in Devon for 47 years – in Topsham, Lympstone and Exmouth. Well known in the musical life of the area, he was a teacher at Exmouth Community College from 1971-89.

For 11 happy years he conducted the Clyst Valley Choral Society. An inspirational choirmaster, his concerts included Bach’s St John Passion, the Brahms Requiem, Bach Cantatas, sing-along Messiahs, and choral works by Vivaldi, Haydn, Handel and Mozart. Rodney also sang with the Exeter Singers, the Bach Choir, Exeter Festival Chorus and the Linstead Singers.

Born in London in 1929, Rodney was educated at Christ’s Hospital school in Horsham. A gifted linguist, after St John’s, Cambridge, he began teaching in 1953 at Bryanston School, Dorset, where he was a housemaster, choirmaster and outstanding rowing coach.

He moved to Topsham in 1970. He married June, and taught languages at Exmouth Community College. He became a committed advocate for the state comprehensive system, and expressed his views in the Journal’s letters column. As a teacher and sixth-form tutor, he was always positive and encouraging, and enjoyed remaining in touch with ex-pupils.

Rodney in the 1990s. Rodney in the 1990s.

He loved the Exe estuary and was a keen sailor. This love of water went back to his Cambridge days, when he was a member the Lady Margaret Boat Club crew that won the grand at Henley Royal Regatta, and in the Cambridge boat that won gold in the European Championships at Macon in 1951. He rowed for Cambridge in 1952, when they lost by a canvas the most exciting Boat Race ever.

All his life he maintained his love of language and was a keen amateur actor. A founding member of the Estuary Players, he also performed with the Lympstone Players.

Eager to help others, he was a volunteer in numerous local charities. Rodney was an enthusiast who enjoyed sharing his knowledge and interests. A warm and witty companion with a fund of amusing anecdotes, he will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

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